Boon Lai

VP Global Partner Marketing at Cisco

Companies that know their customers best and can predict and meet customer expectations are always in the best position for success. That’s certainly no different in these uncertain times. For that reason, Cisco has been striving to become a data-driven company in order to make decisions that keep us ahead of evolving customer expectations.

“Our customers are the ones who are evolving, and that evolution is worth celebrating, particularly at a time like this,” says Boon Lai, vice president of global partner marketing at Cisco.

The road to meeting evolving customer expectations isn’t always easy.

In the past, a potential customer visiting and showing interest in a product was put into a lead center. The lead center determined which partner was best suited to handle the customer’s needs. Then the customer was handed over to the partner, and the buying process would essentially start anew.

Just as importantly, there was no solid estimate of how long that process would take. Moving all the way through that sales cycle could take anywhere from seven hours to seven days.

A year ago, Cisco launched a pilot project with one of its systems integrator partners, WWT, to leverage customer data, web browsing behavior and machine learning in order to deliver a more responsive experience. The project called for analyzing data, connecting the customer with the right partner, and serving up offers and the ability to buy a solution – all in real-time.

Those efforts are paying off today.

“Everything is digital now, and our customer expectations have changed,” Lai says. “They come to looking for Webex solutions for working at home and want to be able to buy and use it right away.”

Existing customers have evolved expectations as well. Their needs have changed due to the current global situation. An existing customer, for instance, might come to seeking quick solutions to immediate challenges.  For example, IT buyers want to be able to easily extend their software licenses to more team members or increase their software consumption. 

“We also have insights on our customer’s usage and can serve up specific features that can help enhance their productivity and experience, turning them into advocates for our solution” Lai says. “That’s when we can really make a difference… even though customer expectations are shifting so quickly, we can proactively adapt our customer’s experience to stay ahead.”

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